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BOCA RATON — Two new buildings could rise in the heart of downtown Boca Raton, bringing with them 93 luxury apartments, a rooftop restaurant and plenty of room for offices. Amid the city’s building boom, it also would feature an automated ATM-like parking garage that could accommodate more cars in less space.
The developer of Aletto Square has submitted the new plans to the city, saying it would help boost the downtown economy. Downtown Boca Raton has been one of South Florida’s fast-growing destinations, with many new high-rises and an influx of newcomers arriving over the past two years amid the pandemic. In recent years, the city’s housing supply has grown with more than 2,000 apartments and condos, in addition to the opening of hundreds of new hotel rooms.Advertisement
Carl Klepper Jr., the vice president of Compson Associates, said the idea for Aletto Square came from the COVID-19 pandemic itself, from both a growing downtown and a relocation of businesses to the area. Aletto Square would be built one block south of Mizner Park, and immediately east of Sanborn Square, a popular destination for morning yoga, drum circles and other social and civic activities.RELATED: This Boca Raton property, poised for 1,000 new residences, just received a ‘staggering’ $320 million deal »
Klepper foresees all the businesses that have moved to Boca Raton staying here, contributing to the demand for Class A offices. Those are typically situated in the most prestigious buildings, competing for premier tenants with rents that could be above average.Advertisement
“One of the things we noted was that Boca Raton has not had Class A office space in quite some time,” he said. “It sounds crazy but during the studying of this project, one of the cornerstones of a Class A office building was to encourage economic development in the downtown. … Commerce drives the downtown.”
The project has drawn opposition from neighbors, who say the new project would bring much more traffic and add to the tie-ups often seen downtown. They also worry the buildings would block the sunrise at nearby Sanborn Square.
“Bigger buildings, and the traffic they cause, are called progress by the developers who want to build them. To the residents of the city, they can be an albatross that will forever hang over their heads,” resident Alan Neibauer wrote on BocaFirst.org, a local news and opinion website.
Neibauer also started a petition that details his opposition to Aletto Square, urging the city to deny the developer’s plan.
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Plans for new apartments
Compson Associates is the developer behind the nearby Tower 155 in Boca Raton, and in Boynton Beach,the Compson Place Apartments and the Santorini.
The plan for Aletto Square calls for seven-story and 10-story buildings. If approved, they would include 93 luxury apartments at 896 to 1,664 square feet, office space, retail or commercial space and more.
In their own documents submitted to the city, developers and engineers behind the proposal estimate that the project would approximately double traffic in the area. Klepper said much of the traffic increase would be unnoticeable because of a state-of-the-art, 360-spot automated parking garage: “It’s as easy as using an ATM.”
The design would be similar to that of Carvana vending machines where residents, workers and visitors drive up, push a few buttons into a keypad and let the heavy machinery take care of the rest, with mechanical arms bringing cars into designated spaces, limiting the need for people to walk and drive within the garage.
“It really reduces the number of movements that you would otherwise see,” he said. “There’s been a deficiency of parking in that area for quite some time. At any given time, considering the office and residential space operates at different times, we create anywhere from 70 to 200 spaces of surplus in the downtown.”
The details of who would operate the rooftop restaurant and occupy that space have not been confirmed yet. Elsewhere in the building, Tucci’s Pizza would have space to sell their popular coal-fired pizza.
Among the concerns from Neibauer and the signers of his petition is the proximity of the building to Sanborn Square. “The morning sun will no longer rise on Sanborn Square,” he said. Aletto Square would be built immediately east of Sanborn Square, across Northeast First Avenue.
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Klepper said he thinks they’ve done a good job of properly placing the buildings where it would “protect the view” downtown. “I happen to be an owner in the adjacent building and ... I think that the Aletto at Sanborn Park is going to be a complimentary development to the downtown.”
The Aletto Square project still needs to move through the approval process with the city’s community redevelopment agency and planning and zoning department, which could take another two or three months. If it receives final approval, construction could begin as soon as summer of 2022 and it could take 18 to 20 months to complete.
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Boca Mayor Scott Singer said he had not yet seen many details regarding the project this far out ahead of any vote, but said the interest in building more office space downtown was encouraging.
“It’s still in the early stages, but it’s a promising sign for Boca that a developer is looking to do Class A office space,” he said.
Singer has previously said he favors more high-end office space in the city, with regards to the proposed redevelopment plans for the Boca Raton Innovation Campus near Yamato Road and Interstate 95.
Austen Erblat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-599-8709 or on Twitter @AustenErblat.AdvertisementAdvertisement Advertisement Advertisement